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Old 05-08-2007, 10:43 AM   #1
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off-roading with airstream

Hi everyone, we are in the process of buying a new trailer, I have been thinking about getting an airstream for awhile and last week we went looking. I have a few questions maybe someone can answer. We live in Calif. near the Nevada border and do a lot of camping off the highways. As I was looking at various trailers I wondered about the ground clearance of Airstream. The areas we go into sometimes have gullys cut across dirt roads and some streams to cross. How would a 23' International handle these situations? I looked under the airstream and there are no skid plates, however I am sold on the quality of construction, and how airtight they are for keeping dust out. If anybody who does some traveling in the dirt could give me some insight I would appreciate it. Thank you .....bob
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Old 05-08-2007, 10:52 AM   #2
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To me, it would depend on how severe you are talking. There is NOT a lot of ground clearance and you could run into issue.

Second, the units are not air tight and although the construction is far better than the box trailers, Airstreams too have their own set of issues.

Do a search and take a peek at the model year quality threads here on this forum to get a sense of what is out there.
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Old 05-08-2007, 11:50 AM   #3
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You may be a canadate for the Airstream Basecamp
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Old 05-08-2007, 12:41 PM   #4
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We take ours out in the desert very often. You need to be aware of where your tank trains are.

You may also want to replace your axles to get a greater angle to give you more ground clearance.

To be honest. Ours does real well on dirt roads but as an offroad trailer....

However as the man told me when I asked the same question. "Wally went from Capetown to Cairo by going slow."
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Old 05-08-2007, 01:06 PM   #5
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Thank goodness they have the short c-channel section at the back corners on the frame just in front of the bumper of newer Airstreams. It's meant to deform if you drag -- which is very possible if gas stations don't ramp up their entries and just have the glorified slanted curb. Ditto on the go slow recommendation. I've seen strong advisories against having rollers installed on your back corners.

Responding to SOB norms and market pressures, Airstream started going with larger tanks in about 2004. Might have been a famous member here first reporting it (Twink ... ), but the large capacity is gained by having the tanks project below the belly skin by about 3" or so. Drop down on your knees and note the tanks are only about an inch higher than the middle of the arched axles. Watch out for roads with boulders or the big middle hump.
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Old 05-08-2007, 06:54 PM   #6
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There is just so much misery associated with ripping away part of your undercarriage stuff. Airstreams are made to ride low when compared to sobs. Lower center of gravity, better towing stability, less drag at highway speeds. All these things are liabilities if you want to travel rutted roads.

Happy trails. Pat
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Old 05-08-2007, 07:05 PM   #7
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I have a homestead cabin in Johnson Valley CA about 2 miles from pavement. Part of it is graded dirt road, and part has a few ruts which I've been able to straddle. The Airstream does not appear to have a lot of ground clearance but I have done no damage to it. I can safely say the Airstream does not leak dust into it when towed on dirt roads.

I think the Airstream will go to the same places as a 2WD standard passenger car; good or fair dirt roads driven with care.
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Old 05-08-2007, 07:12 PM   #8
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Dirt roads, fire roads or clear sandy deserts or beaches...yes - no problem, go slow.

Off-road...like 4-wheeling or forging your own way over unseen boulders & such...not for me. I save the 4-wheel stuff for once we get there and un-hitch - then go off 4-wheelin' and have fun! There are plenty of nice places to park off the beaten path but not truly 4-wheelin' to leave the trailer and use as a home base rather than risk getting stranded with a damaged trailer off in some unreachable location w/o cellphone service.

Yes, Wally did forge his own way through the jungles of Africa on caravans...they also traveled with a full crew able to make major repairs (like new axles) along the way and would only travel a couple of miles a day when doing so. Also there were others with them out scouting the way for the group, sometimes building their own roads.

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Old 05-08-2007, 07:43 PM   #9
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off-roading with airstream

Ground clearance is not good on my 25'. It is pretty easy to drag the rear end trying to cross little gullies.

A related question is how good are Airstream on washboard gravel roads?
Seems like the vibration would be bad.

I have foregone trying to camp at Chaco Canyon, NM due to the 16 miles of gravel road to get there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ryoung1738
We live in Calif. near the Nevada border and do a lot of camping off the highways. As I was looking at various trailers I wondered about the ground clearance of Airstream. The areas we go into sometimes have gullys cut across dirt roads and some streams to cross. How would a 23' International handle these situations? .....bob
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Old 05-08-2007, 07:58 PM   #10
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Model year makes a difference...

My '98 Safari had much less ground clearance than does my current '72 Globetrotter. Even at that, we would annually go camping at a location that has a 2 mile dirt road that at times gets rough. I had no damage, but did worry. I won't worry this year with the '72.
Dave
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Old 05-08-2007, 08:35 PM   #11
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Quote:
A related question is how good are Airstream on washboard gravel roads?
Good question. My experience with washboard is either go very slow < 5 MPH (which is what I do for my short 2 mile drive). Or go somewhere above 35 which tends to smooth out.

But this is in the tow vehicle, not the trailer. If I was doing a lot of washboard, politically correct or not, I'd get in the trailer and observe what is going on at different speeds. Just once to get a feel for what is going on- a single runup and slowdown. It is possible the tandem wheels could have a very positive effect on washboard if the spacing is right.
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Old 05-08-2007, 09:11 PM   #12
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As someone else mentioned, this would seem to be the ideal purpose for a new Basecamp. You should really take look at one. Sure, they're not like the traditional trailers, but they are actually designed with rough roads in mind.

And once you've been in one, you'll really be impressed.
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Old 05-08-2007, 09:14 PM   #13
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The limiting factor is length in that longer rigs hang up at both ends in sharp dips. That said, we've gone some interesting places in Death Valley and Borrego with the Excella which is 31" ovaerall.
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Old 05-08-2007, 09:21 PM   #14
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The axle ground clearence is not much different than most SOBs.
This issue is a angle of attack and departure. The longer the trailer the lower the angles. The "lower" the overall ground clearence.
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